Contributor - Ron Clark (ex-Student and Old Boy)
Knockout Competition and Holy Wrath
St. Bernard's was famous for its Rugby League Teams and Players. SBC produced some very talented footballers...I was not one of them.
However, I was involved in an incident, at Lithgow, playing in a Knockout Competition. Probably in 1956-57, from memory.
SBC was playing Lithgow High School in the 9 Stone 7 Lbs Weight Comp. Our Coach was Br Anthony and our Captain was Norm Robinson. A wonderful player and astute Captain.
I remember that it was a very formal event. All teams were weighed before the game. If you were over the weight, then you did not play. Early in the game, I was passed the ball, in the backline, and made a dash clear. My sole contribution to our team was that I had some pace. The Captain and "Enforcer" of Lithgow tackled me, and stood over me, as I played back the ball. We were right on the sideline. He then pulled me towards him and "kneed" me, probably thinking that he could get away with it. As it was, I was only slightly winded. More surprised than anything.
Then all Holy Wrath took place! A retired Sacred Heart Priest, from Leura, who had been watching our game, was immediately on the field. He got hold of the "Enforcer" and boxed his ears. Rev. Father did not hold back! He also delivered a withering verbal lashing on this youth, telling him that his behaviour was despicable etc.
We were all transfixed.
The "Enforcer" was in an absolute state of shock. Stunned...and remained so for the remainder of the game. This may have been his initial contact and experience with a Catholic Priest. If it was, then it was quite an initial contact and experience !
Contributor - Syl Noonan (ex-Student, Old Boy, Committee and Patron)
From the Beginning...
Br Alban was our first Sports Master. He was a very agile man despite his build. We had never played any organised sport until we went to St Bernard’s. “Albo” had a great ability to impart his knowledge to very raw young lads. I remember him playing me in the centres and telling me “When you get the ball run like blue blazes”. He was great with boys who had problems. No doubt this was one of the reasons he was transferred to Boys’ Town at Engadine.
We also had Br Lewis who was known as “Fog Horn” because of his deep and very loud voice. Br Florence, known as “Flo” followed. He was a big strapping man, who was a gifted sportsman. He was the first person that we ever saw kick a football for goal in the round-the-corner style. He also had a tremendous punt and drop kick. Rumour had it that he would have been picked up to play for Australia had he not joined the Brothers. He was a very good cricket all-rounder too.
Our footie teams were inexperienced in the initial stages. We improved as time went along. Games against Katoomba High School were always a tussle. They had a big winger named Owen Bradford and he was marked by our Kevin Regan, who was a very strong defender. Many the time Owen was bundled into touch. Lithgow High School was a tough team. Springwood Grammar School would come to Katoomba and we played Rugby League. The return games at Springwood were Rugby Union.
Our greatest game of league was against Homebush High School at the Sydney Cricket Ground, as a curtain raiser to the Grand Final between Newtown and North Sydney. It was a record crowd for a Final. Our game finished up a two all draw.
Another game that comes to mind was when we travelled to Surry Hills and played De La Salle College on Redfern Oval. It poured rain all day. I cannot recollect the result of the game. However an incident occurred when we went back to the school for lunch. It continued to rain and we ate our lunch in shelter sheds that ran along the boundary walls of the asphalt playground. One of our team charged across from one side of the shelter shed to the other and he dropped a sandwich which was trodden into the muddy surface by other lads racing back and forth. I happened to look towards the front gate and observed a skinny, bedraggled, very wet boy, five years old, peering around the corner. He spotted the squashed muddy sandwich, and when he thought no one was watching, he raced into the yard, grabbed up the morsel and stuffed it into his mouth as he was running out the gate. That made a great impression on me and I vowed I would never waste any food. That promise has remained with me since. The result is obvious!!
Contributor - Ron Clark (ex-Student and Old Boy)
Circa the 1950's
[Introduction: As Clairvaux features in many of my reminiscences, I thought of a few which I would like to share. Both stories focus on the Oval nearest to the Clairvaux College. Ron]
We were attending St. Canice's School and had made our way down to the above oval to play a game of Rugby League. Bro. Matthew (another wonderful and memorable teacher) was our Grade 5 & 6 teacher.
When we arrived on this freezing day, we found that ice was all over the oval. Before the other school team arrived, Bro. Matthew had organized us into ice-breaking units.
We covered the oval with our footy boots studs...to warm ourselves...and most importantly, be ice-breakers. We did the job, played the game.
Brian Cummins was in our team (Thank God!). He was a ferocious low tackler who never missed his man. I don't think that Brian ever realized how good he was!
On this day, I remember that the Principal of the other school quickly requested of Bro. Matthew: "Brother, could you please take off that red headed boy!!" Brother Matthew obliged, to a puzzled Brian Cummins, who was just warming to the game and the tackling!
Same oval and perhaps two years later St. Bernard's were playing (Rugby League again). Bro. Leo was the Referee.
The very first scrum of the game went down, again in freezing weather. I was playing out in the back line, but we all heard the sickening CRACK. The scrum broke up, and Bro. Leo was quickly on the job. Our hooker, Peter Abood, was in terrible pain.
Peter : "It's my leg, Bro. !!"
Bro. Leo : "Peter, which one ?"
Peter : "This one !" (indicating his left leg)
Peter : "NO ! NO ! THIS ONE ! (indicating his right leg)
Although far from being funny, we all enjoyed the absurd humour. Poor Peter had his leg in a cast for over 6 months.
Clairvaux Oval was probably our "field of dreams".